Story by Ken de la Bastide
Photo by David Sink
Muncie’s Aaron Pierce recorded his third
Glen Niebel Classic victory for non-winged
sprint cars at Anderson Speedway on Sunday.
Pierce inherited the lead on lap 70 when
leader Bobby East tangled with the slower
car of Travis Welpott on the front street
with the two cars coming to rest in turn
From there Pierce was able to pull away from
the field over the final 30 laps.
There were 20 teams for the opening of the
2013 United States Speed Association’s
Sprint Car Challenge powered by the United
Pole sitter Joe Swanson took the early
chased by JoJo Helberg, Pierce, East and
Brian Gingras. Helberg went to the point on
lap 17 when he slipped inside of Swanson
coming off the fourth corner and East got
inside of Pierce to claim the third spot.
Helberg’s run ended on lap 22 when he
bounced off the lapped car of Kyle Feeney,
coming to a stop against the turn four
retaining wall. Helberg’s bad luck put East
on the point chased by Pierce, Swanson,
Gingras and Tony Hunt.
For the next 47 laps East was able to hold
off a determined Pierce, who looked high and
low for a way to the front. On lap 69 with
East and Pierce running amongst slower
traffic, the race deciding incident took
Pierce went on to win by three-seconds over
Swanson with Hunt getting inside of Gingras
on the final lap to finish third.
Chris Neunschwander appeared on his way to a
top five finish when he pulled into the
infield with just two laps remaining.
“The car was great,” Pierce said following
his third Niebel victory. He’s the first
driver to win back-to-back races to go along
with a win in 2003.
“I saw it coming,” he said of the contact
that took East out of the race.
Swanson said his car lost its brakes for the
second half of the race, but the car was
good until then.
“It was tight racing,” he said of the USSA
Hunt said his car wasn’t as good for the
feature as it had been for qualifying and
the heat race.
“It might have been something with the
tires,” he said. “I didn’t want to wreck. We
wanted to get a solid finish, which we did.”
Florida driver Brian Gingras led the entire
distance to win the first heat race holding
off East for all ten laps with Pierce moving
outside of Neunschwander on lap five on the
front straight to claim third.
Gingras won by less than two-tenths of a
second over East with Pierce and
Neunschwander finishing less than a
half-second from the point.
The top four drivers all ran nose to tail
over the final half of the race waiting for
someone to slip.
The second heat win went to Pendleton
resident Todd Welpott, who first turned back
a challenge from Swanson and then Hunt.
Hunt was fourth after the first lap but
passed Helberg with an outside move entering
turn three on lap four. Four laps later Hunt
and Helberg were able to slip underneath
Swanson to claim the final two podium spots.
East set the quick time during
qualifications with a lap of 11.449-seconds
followed by Hunt who clocked a lap at
11.519-second and Pierce with a time of
The top nine qualifiers were all within a
half-second of each other.
Tom Bliss made contact with the turn two
wall during practice and was unable to
For additional information on Anderson Speedway contact Anderson Speedway at